It's been a quiet end to December with dull skies and little wind, so it was particularly pleasing to end with two new birds for the year, including one 'lifer'. Both are attractive little things, so that makes it even better.
A Slavonian Grebe fetched up on the pools next to road along which I commute (although at the moment I am not at work, of course), and has been kind enough to wait a couple of days until I can get there. The pools are between a road and footpath and the Pegwell mud flats, and so views can be excellent.
It's a delicate bird, just larger than the Little Grebe that was also on the pool, and like its cousin spends a lot of its time underwater. Whether on or under the surface, it certainly moves quickly, quartering the pool in search of food.
Almost a year ago to the day a similar Slav arrived at Seaton Lake. Partly in recognition of this, we travelled inland to Seaton, and long before reaching the bank were delighted to see the bright white plumage of a male Smew. We were even more impressed when we saw that a female was by his side. These were my first ever Smew, and beautiful birds they are too.
Another couple of Smew were at the other end of the lake, which also held Teal, Widgeon, Shoveller, Mallard, Coot, Little and Great-Crested Grebes and a male Goldeneye.
There were a few gulls, of course, and one in particular held our gaze, as it had a Ring-bill. Photos were taken, and it is most likely to be a second-winter Common Gull with a 'dark subterminal band' rather than the rare Ring-billed Gull.